Memoir is a risky business for the author. We face the same fears and challenges all artists face when revealing their work to the world. Factor in the additional risk of personal rejection: because we are being transparent about the events of our lives, some members of our audience will never approve of, nor appreciate what we have done. Many writers brave enough to publish would run shrieking from such a lifting of the veil. So there must be some compelling reason authors decide to share their experiences in a memoir. I think it is because when we come down to it, those who write memoir believe that truth is the most important, the most powerful gift we have to share with the world.
At times, someone claims they have written a memoir that is later found to have no correspondence with factual events. Memoirists get peeved by these fake memoirs, because once the facts are discovered, the deception practiced by the “wanna-be” reflects poorly on the genre and casts all of us under suspicion.
While journalists traditionally have been trained to present “just the facts,” like so many kleenexes folded into a box, a memoirist also wants to tell a story that will interest the reader. There are a number of tools at hand to create and maintain the reader’s interest. Writers of memoir are aware that many of the techniques of fiction can be applied to memoir. Creative non-fiction is still non-fiction, but told in a way that allows the reader to slip his feet into the author’s shoes.
This blog is written with the objectives of the memoir-writer in mind. I will be interviewing memoirists about their writing experiences. I will sometimes interview fiction writers on this blog, with a focus on how they bring their own memories into their work, and give them an opportunity to demonstrate some fiction techniques that can enhance memoir.